Galapagos travel can be a life changing experience, almost overwhelming in its intensity. It’s a kind of sensory overload; the spectacular island vistas, never-before-heard calls of diverse and inquisitive wildlife as they draw near, and the blissful scents of rare fauna and fresh seawater all competing for your attention.
And of course, the sheer volume of new knowledge you’ll acquire is incredible. Before embarking on a Galapagos cruise, passengers often study the region. Some have studied and hoped and prepared for their trip to the Islands their entire lives.
Whether you’re just considering the Galapagos as a potential destination or already counting the days to your adventure, consider these reputable and interesting books:
Galapagos Reading List
The Galapagos: Exploring Darwin's Tapestry
This 2009 work from John Hess, Emeritus Professor of Biology at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, is a beautifully illustrated exploration of this naturalist paradise. In it, he focuses on the species most often encountered by humans, such as the flightless cormorant and Galapagos tortoise, and shares a photo essay and accompanying text for each.
Jeffrey P. Bonner, President and CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo, said he’s often asked by people who are traveling to the Galapagos Islands what book they should read, and finally he has a good answer. “John Hess’ book is not just beautifully written. It features spectacular photography—informed by the trained eye of a superb evolutionary biologist—and these images bring the magical plants and animals of this unique archipelago to life.”
The Galapagos: Exploring Darwin's Tapestry is available on Amazon.
National Geographic Bird Watcher’s Bible
This comprehensive guide from National Geographic is rich in visuals and a must-read for adventure travelers. Photographs, maps and diagrams appear amidst short narrative pieces and instructional text on bird-watching. With over 200 photos and 150 illustrations, this is a book you’ll want to keep on hand throughout your travels.
National Geographic Bird Watcher’s Bible: A Complete Treasury is available online from the Quark Expeditions Polar Boutique.
UNESCO World Heritage List
The 19 islands of the Galapagos and the surrounding marine reserve have been designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), meaning they’re of cultural and historical significance and therefore worthy of protection and preservation.
The UNESCO guide on the Galapagos Islands is a fantastic resource on this archipelago and contains descriptive text, maps, galleries of images, educational videos and more, and is a resource for all ages.
Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World
Paul D. Stewart’s 240-page 2007 Yale University Press book is one of the better rated and more popular modern guides on the market. Famed biologist Dr. Margaret D. Lowman called it “the definitive single volume on the Galapagos that ecotourists and readers from all walks of life have been awaiting.”
In his book, Stewart first explores the geological history of the islands, then the human history of the Galapagos before introducing readers to the island's wild inhabitants -- marine iguanas, Galapagos hawks, flightless cormorants, blue-footed boobies and more.
You can order Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World from online book stores.
Quark Expeditions’ Award-Winning Blog
Over the years, we’ve learned that members of the Quark Expeditions Community are voracious readers, with a deep passion for the areas they visit and a desire to learn as much as possible about our destinations. These Islands is no exception, and our in-house travel experts regularly share interesting, informative features and guides on the Galapagos Islands on the Quark Expeditions Blog.
Whether you’re looking to learn more about the birds you’re most likely to see in the Galapagos, the Islands’ top snorkeling locations, the top landing sites or even the best places for hiking these geographically and biologically diverse islands, you’ll find articles to help you prepare for your cruise to Galapagos Islands.
Photos by Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism.